My parents’ regular conflicts at home affected me in ways I couldn’t imagine.
I still remember when I was in 7th grade, I came home running joyfully to my parents with a silver medal swinging in my hand, to tell them how fast I ran in the race and came second in the school. I was very happy that day. But as soon as I reached home, I could hear my mom screaming and breaking jam jars and my dad shouting and cursing even more. I silently crept inside the house. They took little notice of me and continued with their fight. They didn’t ask me about my race and didn’t bother to see my medal either. I picked up my lunch and went inside my room to eat it there, alone, watching television, like I did most of the days. But that day, it hurt a little more than usual. That day, I cried myself to sleep and promised to never participate in a race again. Still, I hoped that they would find a way to make ends meet and the fighting would eventually stop, but it only got worse. And this continued for almost all of my childhood.
But when I was in 12th grade, it struck me for the first time that these conflicts had been affecting me to a great extent. My grades had started to go down, I had great difficulty adjusting to my social circle, I started losing my friends because I became easily restless and irritable, and I started acting seemingly more aggressively. I had too much anger in me and I had nowhere to vent it out. I started staying indoors, and my parents’ conflicts increased even more than they had previously. Over time, I became used to the cursing, the crying and all their fights. It adversely affected my love life altogether. I could not trust anyone and had a hard time cooperating with anyone.
In later years, when I started my first job, I did not mingle with anyone, nor did I try to connect with my colleagues, as I had started to think I was not capable of forming relationships. Getting frustrated and angry about small things had become my usual way of reacting and dealing with situations. I would just speak to one of my colleagues if I needed help with anything. He would often notice my behaviour and, one day, suggested that I get some professional help. Honestly, I was a little suspicious because of the stigma attached to it, but he reassured me that it was okay to get external help. So, taking his advice, I went to see a counsellor. During my first session itself, the counsellor made me feel comfortable. She asked me to open up about my concerns when I was ready, and I did not feel pressured. I felt heard and warm, and therapy became my safe space. I started feeling lighter.
As therapy progressed further, I was determined to get better. I started to understand the reasons behind my thoughts and actions; why I am the way I am today; and how I can change to be a better person. All my emotions that were being repressed all these years started coming out. I had thought that I had gotten immune to all this and did not know I was holding onto so many things. It felt liberating. With ongoing sessions, I became better at communication, my self-esteem increased, and I started managing my emotions more efficiently, especially anger. Gradually, things started to improve again; my work life escalated, my social circle grew, I became more outgoing, and I started to understand myself more than ever before. Seeking professional help has helped me in almost every aspect of my daily life, in ways, I couldn’t even think of. It mended my mind and behavior, which I wasn’t even aware were broken. It changed me and my life drastically.
I found myself starting more meaningful and fruitful relationships with friends and colleagues. With therapy, I learned to forgive my parents for what they did. I started to channelize my aggression into playing sports, and I took up a healthy lifestyle while keeping up with my work life. Yes, I started running as well. And after some time, I got married to a very understanding partner. I now practice verbalising all my emotions and needs to my partner, while my personal promise is to never fight in front of my children.